Beauty and the beast : promotion concerns and the pursuit of physically attractive mates

Chin Ming HUI*, Kelvin F.H. LUI, Wing Yu LAI, Yetta Kwailing WONG, Alan C.N. WONG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: In the mating market, individuals differ in their aspirations to pursue opposite-sex mates who have a relatively higher (vs. similar) level of physical attractiveness. Few studies have explored how motivational concerns outside the mating domain can account for these individual differences in romantic aspiration. Based on regulatory focus theory, this research tested how broad concerns for promotion and prevention influence the aspiration and dating outcome. 

Method: Four studies tested whether promotion concerns increase romantic aspiration and the chance to mate with a more physically attractive partner. The first three studies tested how promotion concerns, either measured (Studies 1a and 2) or manipulated (Study 1b), can influence romantic aspiration. Study 3 further tested how one's chronic promotion concerns are related to the physical attractiveness of the current partner (as rated by observers). 

Results: The first three studies supported the prediction that promotion concerns increase aspiration to pursue more physically attractive mates. The last study also found that, controlling for their own physical attractiveness, individuals with stronger promotion concerns tend to mate with physically attractive partners. 

Conclusions: The results highlight the significant roles of broad motivational concerns in determining both aspiration and chance to date a more physically attractive partner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)892-907
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Personality
Issue number5
Early online date16 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: Preparation of this manuscript was supported by a start‐up grant from the University and the Hong Kong Research Grants Council's general research fund (GRF14601116) awarded to the first author.


  • close relationships
  • mating behaviors
  • physical attractiveness
  • regulatory focus
  • relationship initiation


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